MASDAR City: Technology Cluster HUB Facilities Used in Designing the MASDAR Headquarters, UAE

Mehdi Jalayerian, Environmental Systems Design, Inc.
Tyler Jensen, Environmental Systems Design, Inc.

Masdar City is a planned Net Zero Energy city in the United Arab Emirates. The Masdar Initiative is the bold vision of Abu Dhabi as the first major hydrocarbon-producing economy to transform itself into a global leader in new sustainable energy technologies. The vison for this city is to create a sustainable city providing the highest quality of life with the lowest environmental footprint. The development has established goals that will position the city at the forefront of energy efficiency, intelligent resource utilization and sustainable urban development which is intended to provide benchmark for future developments in the region. On the whole, the built environment is responsible for one of the largest fractions of global energy consumption and with it, anthropomorphic climate change, a result of the emissions associated with power generation. When one also considers the energy required to design, fabricate, transport and construct the materials necessary to bring new building stock online, the importance of the built environment to the energy sustainability equation becomes clearly evident.

The centerpiece of the development is Masdar Headquarters facility, a one million square foot mixed use facility that is designed to move beyond carbon neutrality to generate 3 percent more energy that is needed to operate the building. The approach that led to the winning design, through worldwide competition of 159 entries, considered a systemic evaluation of the whole building structure and systems, environmental context, and economic objectives through a cross-disciplinary, integrated design team setting an exemplar of future sustainable development.

The five-story building design incorporated eleven sculpted glass environmental towers to harness wind and daylight and one of the world's largest building integrated photovoltaic arrays, Integral to the clean power generation strategy the design also passively reducing the buildings cooling demands and created a 'Live, Work, Play, and Educate' shaded outdoor microclimates for the building's occupants. By integration of PV systems into a separate structural trellis system, clean energy could potentially be generated to offset construction power requirements while dually shading workers below during the heat of the day. This, along with other key sustainability design strategies such as solar powered central district cooling system, thermoactive foundation piling, underfloor air distribution, desiccant dehumidification, a high performance building envelope, efficient office workstation strategy and smart-grid enabled facilities management infrastructure facilitated carbon neutrality within slightly over a decade, allowing for the remaining century of its operation to serve as a carbon offsetting mechanism.

Through careful planning and holistic approach to building design and collaborative process, the built environment can achieve unprecedented energy efficiencies and strongly contribute to global carbon management. Lessons learned from MASDAR City and Headquarters facility can offer benchmark to develop an urban "Cluster HUB" facilities for the Central Business District in San Diego to foster sustainable development through community interaction while providing a sense of place and a "civil center."

Learning Objectives

  • Consideration of energy efficiency strategies in city planning can have major impact on environmental emission control
  • Cities and buildings can be developed to achieve energy/carbon neutrality
  • Achieving energy/carbon neutrality requires holistic design
  • Innovative approach to designs can achieves Net Positive Energy Building


Mr. Mehdi Jalayerian is Executive Vice President and Global Projects and High Performance Building Practice Leader for Environmental Systems Design, Inc. (ESD) providing worldwide consulting services for high performance building devlopments including major mixed-use super-tall and high-rise buildings, assembly venues, convention/hotel facilities, mission critical facilities, healthcare/education/government buildings and central cooling/heating/electric plants. Mr. Jalayerian has received eight ASHRAE Excellence in Engineering and Technology awards, an Illinois Engineering Council award, and a Chicago Building Congress Award for his projects and has completed several LEED Certified projects. In 1982, he received Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kansas and is Registered Professional Engineer in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Mr. Jalayerian has published and presented many articles pertaining to integrated building design with a special focus on sustainable and high performance design, building system operational flexibility, building life saftey and phased occupancy planning, and central cooling/heating plants and has served as Adjunct/Research Professor for IIT Department of Architecture. He is a member and chairman of Energy and Sustainability task force at the Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings and has served on Advisory Group for Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Mr. Jalayerian has over 30 years of experience in HVAC and sustainable design practice, during which he has been responsible for building system design for numerous projects in over 20 countries including many performing arts, convention facilities, high rises and supertall buildings such as Trump Tower in Chicago, Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, KSA and the world's first positive energy large scale building known as Masdar Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Tyler Jensen is a Senior Associate, Mechanical Engineer in ESD's (Environmental System Design, Inc.) High Performance Buildings group. He provides mechanical system design for a variety of projects across multiple market sectors. His chief duties include mechanical systems design, energy modeling, mechanical calculations and simulations, assessing shop drawings, surveying and field work, and preparation of electronic drawings/files in AutoCAD and Revit.

As a LEED Accredited Professional, his experience includes consulting on LEED and Estidama projects, as well as performing specialized studies in the smoke management field. His project experience includes design work for multiple positive net energy buildings including the Masdar Headquarters in Abu Dhabi and a planned 300k sf corporate office building in Iowa for a confidential client. His experience also includes the McCormick Place Event Center, which is a high profile stadium primarily for DePaul sports events, as well as other events; a 1.2M sf renovation for the Navistar Corporate Headquarters; and the award winning Motorola Mobility Corporate Headquarters project. Mr. Jensen is a Professional Engineer in the State of Illinois and a LEED Accredited Professional. He has a Master's of Science in the field of Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.


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